If, like us, you simply cannot cope without your afternoon can of Diet Coke, we’ve got some devastating news for you.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) are about to declare that aspartame, the sweetener used in the fizzy drink, is “possibly carcinogenic to humans," according to news reports.
Yup, the bombshell report has uncovered that the sweetener, commonly found in everything from diet drinks to chewing gum, is a potential cancer risk.
Sources told Reuters that the sweetener will be listed next month (July 14 2023) following a review by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
However, the ruling does not take into account how much of a product a person can safely consume.
A spokesperson for the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which will make the decision, said its findings will be kept under wraps until July, but that the report will be “the first fundamental step in understanding carcinogenicity".
The IARC has also previously faced criticism for categorising working overnight and eating red meat as “probably cancer-causing”.
According to the IARC, using your smartphone may also cause cancer – the same proposed category for aspartame.
As you can imagine, the report has seriously divided experts.
“IARC is not a food safety body and their review of aspartame is not scientifically comprehensive and is based heavily on widely discredited research,” Frances Hunt-Wood, the secretary general of the International Sweeteners Association (ISA), said.
Meanwhile, a separate health body, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), ruled in 1981 that aspartame is safe to consume when consumed within daily limits.
An adult weighing, on average, nine stone would have to drink up to 36 cans of a soft drink to risk overconsumption (okay, even our enjoyment of Diet Coke doesn’t stretch that far).
Confusingly, the JECFA is also expected to reveal its own review into aspartame on July 14.
Businesses and regulators alike are worried that holding both JECFA and IARC’s processes could cause problems.
Nozomi Tomita, of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, sent a letter to the WHO in March asking “bodies to coordinate their efforts in reviewing aspartame to avoid any confusion or concerns among the public.”
HuffPost UK has contacted Coca-Cola for comment.